David Starr Jordan

David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan
Born January 19, 1851(1851-01-19)
Died September 19, 1931(1931-09-19) (aged 80)
Nationality  United States
David Starr Jordan as a young man (1868) from Days of a Man

David Starr Jordan, Ph.D., LL.D. (January 19, 1851 – September 19, 1931) was a leading eugenicist, ichthyologist, educator and peace activist. He was president of Indiana University and Stanford University.[1]


Early life and education

Jordan was born in Gainesville, New York, and studied at Cornell University, Butler University, and the Indiana University School of Medicine.[2] While at Cornell University, Jordan joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity.


In 1885, he was named President of Indiana University, becoming the nation's youngest university president at age 34 and the first Indiana University president that was not an ordained minister.[2][3] In 1891, he became president of Stanford University, serving there as president until 1913 and chancellor until his retirement in 1916.[2]

Jordan served as a Director of the Sierra Club from 1892 to 1903.[4]

Although well regarded as an ichthyologist, Jordan was best known for being a peace activist. He argued that war was detrimental to the human species because it removed the strongest organisms from the gene pool. Jordan was president of the World Peace Foundation from 1910 to 1914 and president of the World Peace Conference in 1915, and opposed U.S. involvement in World War I.[2]

In 1925, Jordan was an expert witness for the defense in the Scopes Trial.[2] That same year, he was a listed member in the Bohemian Club and the University Club in San Francisco.[5]

He served as a member of the initial board of trustees of the Human Betterment Foundation, a eugenics organization established in Pasadena, California in 1928 in order to compile and distribute information about compulsory sterilization legislation in the United States, for the purposes of eugenics.[6]


His son, Eric Knight Jordan (1903–1926) followed his father's footsteps into the sciences. He had taken part in a successful paleontological expedition to the Revillagigedo Islands and was considered a rising star in the world of paleontology when he was involved in a traffic accident near Gilroy, California, suffering fatal injuries and dying at the age of 22. His death was a severe blow to his father.[7]

Jordan's files are housed at Swarthmore College.[2]

Monuments and memorials

Notable works

  • Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States (1876)
  • Science sketches (1887)
  • Fishes of North and Middle America (four volumes, 1896–1900)
  • Animal Life: A First Book of Zoölogy (1900), with Vernon L. Kellog
  • The Philosophy of Despair (1901)
  • Food and Game Fishes of North America (1902), with B. W. Evermann
  • Guide to the Study of Fishes (1905)
  • Life's Enthusiasms (1906)
  • The Blood of the Nation (1901 & 1910, expanded)
  • California and the Californians (1911)
  • War and Waste (1913)
  • War's Aftermath (1914), with H. E. Jordan
  • Days of a Man (1922) - autobiography
  • Ways of Lasting Peace
  • Democracy and World Relations
  • Imperial Democracy
  • Shore Fishes of Hawaii
  • The Fish Fauna of the Tortugas Archipelago (with Dr. Joseph Cheesman Thompson) published for the US Bureau of Fisheries


The genera Jordania Starks, 1895, Davidijordania Popov, 1931, and Jordanella Goode & Bean, 1879 are named after him.

Species named after him include:

  • Agonomalus jordani Jordan & Starks, 1904.
  • Agonomalus jordani Schmidt, 1904.
  • Allocareproctus jordani (Burke, 1930).
  • Astyanax jordani (Hubbs & Innes, 1936).
  • Caelorinchus jordani Smith & Pope, 1906.
  • Caulophryne jordani Goode & Bean, 1896.
  • Chimaera jordani Tanaka, 1905.
  • Charal, Chirostoma jordani Woolman, 1894.
  • Jordan's tuskfish, Choerodon jordani (Snyder, 1908).
  • Flame wrasse, Cirrhilabrus jordani Snyder, 1904.
  • Smooth lumpfish, Cyclopteropsis jordani Soldatov, 1929.
  • Diplacanthopoma jordani Garman, 1899.
  • Mimic triplefin, Enneanectes jordani (Evermann & Marsh, 1899).
  • Petrale sole, Eopsetta jordani (Lockington, 1879).
  • Greenbreast darter, Etheostoma jordani Gilbert, 1891.
  • Gadella jordani (Böhlke & Mead, 1951).
  • Yellow Irish lord, Hemilepidotus jordani Bean, 1881.
  • Brokenline lanternfish, Lampanyctus jordani Gilbert, 1913.
  • Jordan's snapper, Lutjanus jordani (Gilbert, 1898).
  • Shortjaw eelpout, Lycenchelys jordani (Evermann & Goldsborough, 1907).
  • Malthopsis jordani Gilbert, 1905.
  • Gulf grouper, Mycteroperca jordani (Jenkins & Evermann, 1889).
  • Neosalanx jordani Wakiya & Takahashi, 1937.
  • Patagonotothen jordani (Thompson, 1916).
  • Ptychidio jordani Myers, 1930.
  • Northern ronquil, Ronquilus jordani (Gilbert, 1889).
  • Shortbelly rockfish, Sebastes jordani (Gilbert, 1896).
  • Jordan's damsel, Teixeirichthys jordani (Rutter, 1897).
  • Jordan's sculpin, Triglops jordani (Schmidt, 1903).

See also

  • Eugenics in the United States


  1. ^ "David Starr Jordan '72". Cornell Alumni News I (6): p. 39 & p. 43. May 10, 1899. http://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/3163/5/001_06.pdf. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Papers of David Starr Jordan, CDG-A, Swarthmore College Peace Collection
  3. ^ "Meet President Jordan, "Stanford Magazine"
  4. ^ "Roster of Sierra Club Directors". Sierra Club. http://www.sierraclub.org/history/officers/directors.pdf. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  5. ^ Dulfer & Hoag. Our Society Blue Book, pp. 177–178. San Francisco, Dulfer & Hoag, 1925.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ G. Dallas Hanna, Expedition to the Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico, in 1925 - General Report; Proceedings of the California Academy Of Sciences, Vol. XV, No. 1, March 1926
  8. ^ NOAA Ship DAVID STARR JORDAN at www.moc.noaa.gov
  • Edward McNall Burns, David Starr Jordan: Prophet of Freedom (Stanford, 1953)
  • Alice N. Hays, David Starr Jordan: A Bibliography of His Writings 1871-1931 (Stanford, 1952)
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Lemuel Moss
President of Indiana University
Succeeded by
John Merle Coulter
Preceded by
President of Stanford University
Succeeded by
John C. Branner

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